yes, therapy helps!
Meaningful learning: giving meaning to our progress

Meaningful learning: giving meaning to our progress

June 20, 2024

We can learn in many ways, but the form that encompasses the emotional, motivational and cognitive dimension in a more complete way is called significant learning .

When this type of learning occurs, the way of associating previous skills and knowledge and so that new information can be integrated into them is carved by the motivational source and the meaning attributed to what is learned. This is important, considering that The key that marks the difference between the different forms of learning is in the process of knowledge construction .

An approach to the idea of ​​meaningful learning

Significant learning involves a process in which the person collects the information, selects it, organizes it and establishes relationships with the knowledge that it previously had. So, this learning occurs when the new content is related to our lived experiences and other acquired knowledge Over time, having motivation and personal beliefs about what is important to learn a very relevant role. This entails giving the new knowledge a unique meaning for each person, since each one of us has our life history.


When meaningful learning occurs, the mental models created through time and experience determine how we will see the information and how we will manage it. To put it in some way, our way of internalizing what is learned and endowing it with meaning gives us an idea of ​​the "glasses" with which we see reality, and vice versa.

The emotional dimension of learning

The process of attributing a personal meaning to what we learn passes through a more affective and emotional dimension than what we usually associate with the "technical" learning of a subject, in which it is simply repeated, practiced and memorized.

It is not just about retaining an information in memory for a period of time and then releasing it as it could be in an examination response: the purpose is to give a personal meaning to knowledge , to be able to explain it with your own words, and even, once the significant learning has been done, to create new knowledge through it.


In this way, the difference between the significant learning and a repetitive learning it refers to the relationship, or not, of the material to be learned with prior knowledge. Relationships with meaning and not arbitrary, that is, if you can relate to prior knowledge, you can attribute some meanings, from which a mental map of knowledge . This is achieved by modifying the cognitive structure, something that would not do a repetitive learning, since it can only be maintained for a short period of time.

Two factors to consider

For learning to be meaningful, two conditions must be met. The content must be potentially significant from these aspects:

1. Logical significance

At the level of the internal structure of knowledge, it must be relevant and with a clear organization .


2. Psychological significance

From the capacity to assimilate it, there must be relevant and relatable elements within the cognitive structure with the learning material. Therefore, there must be a favorable disposition to learn the new material and relate it to what you already know previously.

Comprehensive memorization

It is obvious that in order to carry out a learning process, not only must the material exist, but the motivational and emotional components are key to a good disposition to learning and the relationship between concepts. Not only is the individual's ability to acquire knowledge at stake, in terms of maturation or cognitive competence .

In order to consolidate this new knowledge through meaningful learning, we need the comprehensive memorization . Constructing new meanings implies modifying the previous ones and adding new elements to form relationships. Memorization is comprehensive because the constructed meanings modify, add and enrich the cognitive schemes.

In addition, the modification of the cognitive schemes produced by the achievement of a significant learning is directly related to the functionality of the learning performed, that is, with the possibility of using what has been learned to face new situations.

When what is learned has meaning it is not only more pleasant to expand knowledge: in addition, these remain well in the memory and can lead to better solutions .

Bibliographic references:

  • Coll, C., Palacios. J, Marchesi, A. (2004). Psychological development and education, (2). Madrid: Alliance

What makes us feel good about our work? | Dan Ariely (June 2024).


Similar Articles